[Buddha-l] Abdhidharma vindicated once again

JKirkpatrick jkirk at spro.net
Thu Mar 3 21:14:25 MST 2011

My take on why they valorised this state to that extent is
because they valued prodigy almost above all--monks were valued
because of their prodigious exploits, real or imagined (see the
Divyavadanas). What could be more imprssive than being in a
corpse-like state but still alive?  Being cooped up continually
with others doing the same thing, plus hemmed in by hundreds of
rules, competition is sure to arise to relieve the boredom,
leading to valorisations of prodigious exploits that even kings
didn't emulate. Let us not forget Mahakasyapa--who refused to
live in sangha, who took off and stayed separated.  

Can one speculate that M. thus accrued such big charisma because
of this as one reason why they all agreed to allow him to be the
leader after the Buddha's parinirvana?If he wasn't around 99% of
the time, he wouldn't have had the experience of making enemies
here and there or being in factions. Think of Buddha's cousin,
Devadatta, who was forever PO'd because the Buddha's rules were
different from the rules he favored. That enmity was about rules
and competition. 

I take your point about the Buddha wanting to get away from the
turmoil of running his sangha. But didn't he do this now and then
by just heading off by himself into the jungle for a few days? If
he'd been more kingly, and less saintly, 
he could have managed all their petty little questions and
doctrinal disputes simply by telling them "cut it out", instead
of feeling forced to proliferate rules of conduct.
Batchelor has some insightful things to say about how he managed
being the head boss, that it was a daily struggle with Mara what
with the monks beleaguering him, and worrying about getting
enough food for them, and other mundane concerns. 


-----Original Message-----
From: buddha-l-bounces at mailman.swcp.com
[mailto:buddha-l-bounces at mailman.swcp.com] On Behalf Of Dan
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 8:46 PM
To: Buddhist discussion forum
Subject: Re: [Buddha-l] Abdhidharma vindicated once again

> But speaking of that,  I wonder what the benefit would be for
> individual learning to produce this state of nirodha-samapatti,

Paul Griffiths raised the same question in his book on it, called
_On Being Mindless_. He decides early on that it is a rather
useless comatose state and so spends the rest of the book looking
at some of the classical discussions to try to figure out why
they valorized it. Don't remember him finding a satisfactory

That Buddha might want an occasional vacation from a clueless
sangha that argued over doctrinal triviliaties, tattled on each
other, and were morally and ethically clueless to the point of
being instructed with rules down to picayune minutiae is
understandable (only half kidding).

The more puzzling role assigned nirodha-samapatti in the
literature and tradition, for me, is that it an experience so
valorized and raised to the highest level (literally -- it's
associated with the penultimate pinnacle of practice and located
at the upper reaches of the formless realm, the
bhavagra) that it becomes considered the veritable vestibule for
full awakening, a kind of glimpse of nirvana before reaching full
awakening. I devote a lengthy chapter to this in my Buddhist
Phenomenology and don't remember finding any better solution than
did Griffiths.


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